Free-diving and Northwest inspire new exhibit

Opening reception is Friday at Smithers Art Gallery for ‘Above/Below’ and ‘Bring Me Back.’

Smithers Art Gallery presents ‘Above/Below’ by Allison Smith and Joseph Crawford, and ‘Bring Me Back’ by Jessica Hagen.


The series Above/Below was inspired while free-diving on the west coast of Haida Gwaii. Above/Below was originally published as a collaborative photo-essay in Northword Magazine by photographer Joseph Crawford and artist Allison Smith, and has since evolved into a group exhibit. This is a multi-media show that combines Joseph Crawford’s underwater photography, Allison Smith’s visual art and written essay, and a short co-created film, Hands In the Water.

The dynamic series explores the experience of submerging into the underwater world. It captures the cerebral experience of the transition between air to water mediums, and the subsequent change in sound, pressure and movement. The pieces capture the immense energy of the Pacific swell, the rugged terrain and challenging weather, that require one to surrender to the elements. It is inspired by the relationship between humans and nature, where humans are not only a part of nature’s chaos but at her mercy.

Bring Me Back

Someone once told me to “paint what you know” and what I know is that the beauty of nature is unlimited and awe-inspiring. Its beauty can be found everywhere, if you have eyes to see it. This collection is full of painted interpretations of scenes I grew up surrounded by in Smithers, scenes I was enamoured with while on a trip exploring northwestern B.C. and Haida Gwaii, and also scenes that simply inspire me in a way that rivals all other moments spent in nature. ‘Bring Me Back’ is my nod to the places I have been and the hope I have for the places I have yet to explore.

Opening reception: Friday, Feb. 1, 6-9 p.m. Come along and meet the artists – all welcome, free admission and open to all members of the public. Refreshments are provided.

Exhibition dates: Jan. 29 – March 2

Gallery hours: Tuesday-Friday 12-5 p.m., Saturday 12-4 p.m.

Artist bios

Joseph Crawford is an outdoor and underwater photographer and filmmaker. Joseph is inspired by the energy and immersive aspect of underwater photography. He aims to share his love for natural spaces by connecting viewers into these soul-feeding experiences. Joseph’s photography has been published in Northword Magazine, National Geographic Traveller, Coast Mountain Culture, Enroute Magazine and Tadswii’ Kaats’ii Hla. Joseph has trained at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. He is currently pursuing a Master of Architecture at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Environmental Design.

Allison Smith is a visual artist, filmmaker and writer whose work is inspired by the wilderness, landscape, and communities in which she has lived. Her current work is inspired by the opposing movement, colors and changing geometry of water. In this series she explores a variety of mediums including ink, pastels, watercolors, acrylics and spray paint. Allison’s writing, including short fiction, has been published in Northword Magazine, Dote Magazine, Calgary is Awesome and Yes & Yes. Allison is currently a practicing community engagement facilitator.

Jessica Hagen is a Canadian artist. In 2005 she earned her degree majoring in Fine Arts, graduating with distinction from Augustana University. She dabbles in many forms of artistic design, but her favoured medium is oil on canvas. Born and raised in Smithers, British Columbia, she discovered her love of art at a very young age. She now resides just outside of Camrose, Alberta with her husband and three children, where they farm the beautiful prairie landscape.

–Submitted story

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